Cuts to MPBN, state planning office and tax breaks in state budget

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Tax breaks for retirees and military personnel are among the items on Gov. Paul LePage's state budget rewrite, presented Tuesday to lawmakers.

The supplemental budget outlined for the Appropriations Committee also seeks sales tax exemptions for wood harvesting equipment, which would match exemptions the state already allows for equipment used in fisheries and agricultural industries, Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett told the committee.

"We thought this was a parity situation," said Millett.

Under the two-year budget rewrite, spending of about $38 million is more than offset by savings.

The proposal also would abolish the State Planning Office and create the Office of Police and Management. In addition, it would eliminate state funding for the Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation. Similar proposals to cut funding for public broadcasting have been rejected.

The rewrite seeks increased income tax exemptions for retirement income starting in 2014. The proposal would raise the income limit to $10,000 in 2014 and reach a total of $35,000 in 2019. Military pay for service out of state would also be exempted starting in 2014.

The two tax-break proposals would take effect after the current two-year budget cycle closes in mid-2013. But they were included in the budget proposal to foster discussion about two issues important to the governor, Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett said.

"He's been talking about these items for so long that now he wants to have an open dialogue" with lawmakers, Millett said.

The proposal also called for a tax break for sales and rentals of equipment used for respiratory ventilation, to kick in during the remainder of the current budget cycle.

Lawmakers in February enacted a supplemental budget that mostly addressed Medicaid programs and closed a $120 million revenue gap through June 30. The Legislature is expected to take up further budget revisions.

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Jason Theriault's picture

Is this really the time?

Yes, let have tax cuts. I mean, the budget is looking for cuts in almost every program, DHHS is so underwater, they make Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac look like fiscally solid organizations. So now if the time for tax cuts.



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